As if the dangers of heroin, mushrooms and cocaine weren’t enough to contend with, the 21st century has ushered in a new class of illicit substances, commonly known as “club drugs.” Bath salts exist as one of many substances within this drug classification, producing effects similar to cocaine, but much stronger.
Commonly used at nightclubs and dance parties (also known as raves), both teenagers and young adults engage in bath salt abuse to enhance the party experience. Not unlike cocaine, bath salts carry a high addictive potential with the capability of doing just as much harm and then some.
Signs of bath salt addiction can be especially hard to miss for friends and loved ones, though the person affected will likely not be able to acknowledge any difference in his or her behavior. As with most any other form of addiction, the longer a person keeps using, the stronger the hold bath salt addiction has over his or her daily life.
What Are Bath Salts?
In a nutshell, bath salts are synthetic formulations of controlled substances. As synthetic substances, bath salt manufacturers can circumvent existing drug laws and sell bath salts like any other type of product, according to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration.
Bath salts may also be labelled as plant food and typically come in tan, brown and white crystal powder and tablet forms. Like most any other type of illicit substance, bath salts can be smoked, snorted, injected or taken in pill form.
Bath Salt Effects on the Brain
Bath salts are formulated to produce the same effects as cathinones, a naturally occurring substance derived from the khat plant. As synthetic cathinones, bath salts produce stimulant effects comparable to cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamine.
According to Virginia Commonwealth University, most types of bath salts contain a combination of ingredients, with mephedrone and Methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV being the most commonly used. Mephedrone acts as the amphetamine component, triggering the release of large amounts of dopamine into the brain, MDPV works to block the brain’s recycling of excess dopamine materials. These interactions account for the intense “high” that bath salts can bring, with effects lasting anywhere from three to four hours.
Signs of Bath Salt Addiction
Like cocaine, frequent use of these drugs quickly leads to bath salt addiction as users tend to experience strong cravings on an ongoing basis. Bath salt addiction develops out of the effects had on dopamine output in the brain, a neurotransmitter that plays a central role in reconfiguring the brain’s reward system.
Signs of bath salt addiction may include:
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal ideations
- Mood disorders
- Loss of interest in fulfilling daily responsibilities
- Isolative behaviors
- Unusual risk-taking
- Problems with the law
In effect, bath salt addiction all but warps the brain’s chemical pathways and over time can cause actual brain damage.
Getting Needed Treatment Help
Bath salt addiction poses a serious threat to a person’s ability to manage daily life. As young people tend to make up the majority of users, the effects of these drugs on their physical and psychological development can lead to actual physical and psychological impairments in the future.
If you or someone you know struggles with bath salt addiction and have further questions about addiction or need help finding treatment programs in your area, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-768-8728 for more information.